‘The eyes of the world are upon you’

Eisenhower’s words to troops before D-Day are still true

American paratroopers leaped out of planes into the dark early morning sky above Normandy in occupied France 75 years ago today.

Their arrival signaled the beginning of the end for Adolf Hitler and his vile Nazi regime.

Hours later, thousands of American, British and Canadian troops dashed onto beaches code-named Omaha, Utah, Gold, Juno and Sword. German defenders hurled countless bullets and shells at the invaders.

The gut-wrenching opening sequence of the 1998 film ”Saving Private Ryan” gave people an idea of what happened on those beaches that morning. But the film couldn’t possibly convey the full, true brutality of the D-Day invasion.

It is impossible for us today to really comprehend what went through the minds of the young soldiers as their boats and planes brought them closer and closer to Normandy. They were certainly anxious and scared. Perhaps some of them realized that they would probably not be coming back from this mission.

What we do know for certain is that they overcame their fears. We know for certain that they didn’t give up.

We know that many of them gave their lives to free millions of people they never met from a monstrous dictator.

Those troops — those who came home and those who didn’t — are all heroes.

Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, the supreme allied commander who masterminded the invasion, issued a statement to the troops before the attack.

”You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade toward which we have striven these many months,” he wrote. ”The eyes of the world are upon you.”

Today, 75 years after the general known as Ike wrote those words, the eyes of the world are once again focused on the beaches of Normandy.

But now those eyes are filled with tears of sorrow and gratitude.